26 September 2008

Covering the mirror

Bad writing is almost always bad for the same reason: the writer believes that staying true to their own unique perception will lend a piece enough authenticity that a reader will be able to overcome the hurdles of clumsy prose, the poor handling of dialogue and bad pacing. (I use the term ‘writer’ quite loosely, in the context of a verb, as writing does not a Writer make.)

Most of us experience the world in ways that are similar enough that when someone makes an astute observation, it can give you the impression that this person somehow ‘read your mind.’ If they are very clever, they will put a unique spin on things, thereby making us all feel like dimwits who should just cap our pens now because we will never achieve this level of lucidity.

On the other hand, if a writer interjects too many of their own quirks, the piece risks devolving into an alien text that, while being utterly relatable as far as it may refer to something of a shared experience at times, more often than not fractures our sense of unity and dislodges us from the fantasy. In this instance, even when they believe that they are tapping into the life-force of the universe, these writers are still mainly writing about themselves.

And this is where I get stuck. The navel can be a beautiful thing to gaze on (just lift up your shirt and see) but I want to escape the restrictive playpen of my own ego and immerse myself in fiction for once.

I think I need to detoxify and take a complete holiday from the internet. It frightens me a little bit to contemplate, but on the other hand, this fear only strengthens my resolve.

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